By Abayomi Azikiwe, August 18, 2022
As far back in history as the period of enslavement of African people in North America, resistance and rebellion has been met with retaliatory repression from the ruling interests.
Freedom fighters such as Gabriel Prosser, Denmark Vessey, Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, among many others named and unknown, have been either brutally executed or left with no alternative other than to seek flight from oppression.
This same legacy of confinement, brutality and lynching continued into the post-slavery era of the 20th and 21st centuries. Between the 1880s and the Great Depression of the 1930s, thousands of African Americans were extra-judicially murdered by mobs of law-enforcement agents and vigilantes.
When the Civil Rights Movement erupted on a mass level during the 1950s with the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-56) and other actions, activists were subjected to unjustified arrests, sentencings and the bombing of homes and churches. During the 1960s, scores of Civil Rights workers were arrested, beaten, intimidated into leaving their home areas, wounded by gunfire and killed. People such as Medgar Evers (1963) and Herbert Lee (1961) of Mississippi were gunned down for their organizational work against racism and disenfranchisement.
In Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963, the Ku Klux Klan bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church killing four African American girls. During the Freedom Summer of 1964 in Mississippi, three Civil Rights workers: Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner and James Chaney, were lynched by KKK members who were employed as law-enforcement officers.
In later years, key leaders such as Malcolm X (1965), Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968), Fred Hampton and Mark Clark (1969) were all assassinated in plots carried out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) working in conjunction with police agencies and mercenaries. With the emergence of armed self-defense organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Monroe, North Carolina chapter led by Robert F. Williams, the Deacons for Defense (DOD) founded in Louisiana, the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO), the first independent political formation to utilize the black panther symbol in Alabama; the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, Republic of New Africa (RNA), Black Liberation Army (BLA), among others, the Justice Department’s FBI and other intelligence and law-enforcement agencies heightened their disruptive tactics against the African American liberation struggle.
Assata and the BLA
Assata Shakur, born in 1947, joined the Black Panther Party in the New York City area while she was a college student in 1970. She had already been active in Black students organizing when she made contact with the BPP, which during 1970, maintained dozens of chapters across the United States as well as an International Section in Algiers, Algeria in North Africa….